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It’s final: SC won’t vacate quota stay
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, August 8
The Centre’s move to get the OBC reservation implemented in education institutions from the current academic year received a setback today as the Supreme Court declined to grant a relief to the government. According to the apex court the government had failed to do the necessary ground work of getting prior approval from competent authorities to increase the seats to accommodate quota students.

Since the prior approval of the Medical Council of India for increasing seats in medical colleges, Dental Council of India in dental colleges and All-India Council for Technical Education in engineering institutions was mandatory, the court said the implementation of the quota in these institutions was out of question this year.

Though the government, particularly the HRD minister Arjun Singh, had made it a single point agenda to get the apex court’s March 29 interim stay vacated with repeated petitions, the ministry had not taken the basic necessary step of getting approval for increasing the seats all these months.

In absence of the HRD ministry taking the necessary step, which was mandatory under Section 5 of the new OBC Reservation Act, to get the approval of the appropriate authorities for increasing the seats to accommodate quota students, a constitution Bench, headed by Chief Justice K.G Balakrishnan, said it was not possible to accept the request of the Centre.

The Bench, having Justices Arijit Pasayat, C.K Thakker, R.V Raveendran and Dalveer Bhandari as the other judges, said if the medical, dental and engineering colleges were to be kept out, there was no point in implementing the quota in other institutions where such approval had even been obtained.

The court said the new OBC Reservation Act is aimed at providing the benefit to all targeted sections and not just to a small section and keeping medical, dental and engineering colleges out would mean allowing another type of discrimination.

The Bench, which also took into consideration the date of commencement of different courses, said in the present circumstances it was not possible to permit the implementation of the OBC reservation only in a few institutions. The date of starting the study in many courses had expired either in June or July.

The court yesterday had sought complete data from the government about prior approval from competent authorities about the increase of seats to accommodate OBC students in different institutions and details about the commencement of different courses.

Implementation of the quota without excluding the “creamy layer” was also raised by various petitioners challenging the validity of the Act in the present form.

Solicitor General G.E Vahanvati, who made a strong plea for vacating the stay, however, had candidly told the court yesterday that he had no “instruction” from the government regarding “giving any concession about the Act”.

On the question of “creamy layer” he had said he had no authority to make a commitment about it and he was leaving it to the court to take a decision in this regard.

After turning down the request of the government, the Bench today commenced the hearing of arguments on the main case pertaining to the validity of the Act, challenged in over half-a-dozen petitions, including Youth for Equality, an organisation of medicos and other students opposed to reservation in the present form.

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Judgment no setback, says Arjun
Matter will be resolved soon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 8
Even as the government maintained that the Supreme Court's refusal to vacate its stay on the implementation of 27 per cent OBC quota was not a setback, union HRD minister Arjun Singh told mediapersons today "we will see what can be done to get the matter resolved."

Arjun Singh stressed that at every stage the government wanted to get the reservation going and refused to categorise the apex court's stay as a setback as it has not rejected it. He insisted that his ministry "is trying to do what is correct."

The minister side stepped the issue if the Centre proposed making a fresh plea to the court for early resolution of the matter, he observed why should we anticipate that the matter will take a long time to be resolved? "I don't think it will take that long and I am quite sure there will be a judgement soon."

Asked if the programme to expand the infrastructure in the institutions of higher learning would go ahead, he said the government will have to examine the issue. About the fate of the OBC students who have already secured admission for this year in some institutions, Arjun Singh said it was for the institutions to decide.

On the creamy layer issue, he said it was not something to be discussed and decided upon. "That was not part of our Bill." Asked about the unaided education institutions, the minister noted that it will require "some more time for us to think over."

To another question, the minister said discussions were on in respect of the proposed Foreign Universities Bill and it was possible that the legislation in this regard might be brought in the upcoming monsoon session of Parliament. "We are trying to resolve the differences. I have written to CPM member Brinda Karat and she has also written back."

The minister categorically rejected suggestions of governmental interference in the functioning of the IIMs. "I would like to ask any Director of the IMM's to point out one case where we have interfered. Search Committees were appointed because we wanted wider choice. If someone creates confusion what can I do," Singh wondered.

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Anti-quota groups rejoice

New Delhi, August 8
Anti-quota protestors danced in joy and many leading educational institutions breathed a sigh of relief as the Supreme Court Wednesday refused to vacate the stay on the implementation of reservation for OBCs.

The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) campus here, which was the epicentre of the anti-reservation protests last year, witnessed jubilant celebrations. Scores of doctors at AIIMS were seen greeting each other.

"It is a victory of truth and vindication of our fight for a just cause. Its a joy+ous mood in our institution," said Kumar Harsh, a doctor at AIIMS.

"Our faith in judiciary is just getting stronger and stronger," said Harsh, who was among the leaders of the anti-quota movement in which tens of thousands of doctors, students and professionals across the country participated.

"We have never been against reservation in its entirety but the government should not divide us in the name of religion, caste. Reservation should only go to those who are poor and needy - he or she can be of any religion or caste," Harsh told IANS.

Institutes of higher learning too breathed a sigh of relief. They will not be forced to implement the new reservation policy in the middle of their academic session. — IANS

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